Go on a ramble through a world of secret gardens created in beautifully detailed pen-and-ink illustrations a€“all waiting to be brought to life through colouring, but each also sheltering all kinds of tiny creatures just waiting to be found. This past weekend we took off for Portland so that Scott could run his first marathon - woohoo! Here are a bunch of the titles that I’m using now or hoping to use to keep those wheels turning, headed in the right direction. I bookmarked Welcome to Mamoko for Lydia but discovered that it’s really good for all my kids. No, it’s not a book like the rest on this list but still a great creativity builder that easily fits on a bookshelf.
I may start drawing on this resource instead of reading another bedtime story to my little one.
I wanted to build my younger son’s creativity with words about feelings and daily happenings.
Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art is another great title from one of my favorite fun publishers, Laurence King.
London author Linda Scott strikes a great balance between prompts to inspire and freedom for creative license in her second book My Monster Bubblewriter Book.
When I was little, I remember spending afternoons alone with graph paper, designing buildings and how to arrange rooms (complete with a line down the middle for those shared between two sisters, mind you).
In The Book of Doing: Everyday Activities to Unlock Your Creativity and Joy, author Allison Arden seeks to inspire the grown-up set.
There’s my working post of creativity builders, a few tools to teach grit and perseverance and keep-on-keeping-on to my wee designers, artists, thinkers, inventors, and entrepreneurs.
I would like to put all of these items on my Christmas list… you really know great books! Johanna Basfordis and ink illustrator who created preachers rooted plants and animals around her home in rural Scotland and complex hand-drawn illustrations. As their mother, I’ve got a big task before me—build up in them collaboration and thinking in a new way to make new things. With charming illustrations and people of all different shades, simply put, Rosie Revere, Engineer encourages science and making and building for girls. The only words are in the inside cover, introducing you to the characters and asking a question about each one that is answered in the pages that follow.
They are also total suckers to the kids’ menus—you know the ones that have activities and things to draw and all that jazz.
Feelings In a Jar, part of Free Spirit Publishing’s jar series, includes 101 small cards that have one feeling word on each card—unhappy, relaxed, hopeless, startled, accepted, mixed-up, peaceful, cheerful, spirited, agitated, etc.
Another resource from the same collection from Free Spirit Publishing, Story Starters In a Jar includes 101 cards with story starting prompts that all end with ellipsis points—”Crack! It’s perfect for him and the whole crew and is all about fostering creativity as well as global citizenship. I find myself wanting to draw words that look like their meaning and make my letters into adorably creepy little monsters after flipping through this one.

Maybe that is what attracted me to Draw Me A House: A Book of Colouring in, Ideas and Architectural Inspiration, my own secret desire to spend a day with my graph paper once again. While You Are Awesome: 21 Crafts to Make You Happy is not geared towards kids, it features very easily doable crafts that have Etsy and Pinterest written all over them.
They are more and more aware of the struggle of having a creative idea, not being able to make it happen as it looked in their head, and then feeling like scrapping the vision altogether.
They’re cute little characters like Claude Van Clue and a turtle named Boris Greenshell who carries a bag with a hole in it. There are so many ways parents (and educators) could use these cards—choose a random card and act it out while others guess which feeling it is, have everyone choose a random card and take it on all during dinner together, choose a random card and share the last time you felt that way, choose a random card and draw a picture of someone in a situation that may cause him or her to feel that way.
Each 2-page spread features a colorful empty circle like the ones on the cover opposite very simple prompts, giving a space to write the date, circle the weather, note what you ate for three meals, and then share freely what was a thumbs up and a thumbs down for the day.
And, not only is it a fun activity book for your kiddo, it will give you a ton of pages you can either rip out to send to grandma or a ton of ideas you can recreate on your own to make Valentine’s cards, birthday cards, or some frameable art for gifts. At first glance, these may seem like simple, mundane, inconsequential things, but don’t be fooled—they are of utmost importance! It has lots of educational stuff packed in there in such a way that kids won’t even realizing they are learning. Featuring over 100 mini-scientific adventures, my son may actually start to believe that some of the stuff he hears about in school really does apply to real life. Great for aspiring designers like my older two kids but also a great gift for an art teacher or an architect or engineer-ish person. Ashlyn would love to tear this book apart and be inspired by ideas like Valentine medals, a doorknob mailbox, and stenciled magnets made out of little slices of a branch. While this would be a fun coffee table book for families and young adults, you may want to rip out a couple pages. But, more than all that, it’s a simple sort of parable for mommies, daddies, and boys and girls alike that there’s such a thing as “perfect failure” as you practice creativity and take initiative to create things to solve problems, leading us all to stand and cheer. It has lots of different fun art prompts on big sheets of paper, perfect for keeping your kiddos busy while you are making dinner or trying to actually have a conversation with the big people around your table.
As a mother of two children who need help navigating emotions, this is definitely a tool for my mothering and shepherding toolbox. For the younger set, I’m thinking I let her draw a card and simply tell me a story verbally so that I can get a break from reading the same favorite bedtime story over and over again.
Seems like a great resource for building verbal skills, emotional awareness, and artistic creativity with the face he can complete each day.
Every page is dated (month and day) and then asks a question like “What age would you like to be? Every minute of the day there are hundreds (or thousands) of things around us that we don’t notice. Nearly 200 pages showcasing 162 different inventions, some that will make you ooo and ahhh and some that completely gross you out (think venting pants). In fact, I wish Steve Bowkett and Laurence King Publishers would make this book into a series.

With a more grown-up look about it with no coloring pictures and great info about hand lettering, type, bitmaps vs. But, because there are 642 in here, I still like it; there are plenty of really clever ones that you could use to help kids get started or to just throw out during dinner to lead to some fun and clever conversation. As soon as we got there I took off straight for a few of my favorite shops that I discovered last time and ended up falling in love with this sweet coloring book at Alder & Co.
Love it…and love that I can never seem to find our copy because someone always seems to have it in a stack by their bed. The questions from the beginning can be story prompts, or you can skip those entirely and just be creative with your own story. Note that it says for ages 8 and up—I think that’s simply because of reading and some of the vocabulary being a bit more advanced. But, there’s something about reading about all these different ways that people saw a problem and created something to address it that stirs up all the creative juices in you. While you’re at it, Chronicle Books, can you also publish one called 642 Things to Blog About?
Each page is a work of art in and of itself, with detailed illustrations done by Johanna Basford, known for her extremely detailed pen-and-ink work.
Great look, feel, and concept for building creativity in kids and doing it together as a family taking turns with the story you create. Flip the book around and start working from that side from prompts to create word maps, write your own fortune cookie fortunes, imagine what scribbled out notes may have said, and other super fun activities. Fonts are showcased alongside a page of graph paper to practice your own version and develop new alphabets. Even if your kids are too young to get into writing out stories per se, these prompts are great conversation starters. Everyday, your child is encouraged to think creatively, express himself or herself, and grow his or her self-awareness.
The challenge Keri gives is to infuse our daily outings and daily life with a quest to see those seemingly insignificant things with new eyes. I am so in love with this little coloring book, I almost don't want to give it to London for her birthday on Wednesday and just selfishly color it myself! And, at the end of three years, even if some days are not completed, you have a keepsake that you may just pull out at her bridal shower. On every page is an item to find with space to write where it was found, the date, the time, and the story of either finding it or maybe how you see it in a new way simply because it is now in your sight. Yeah, this one has got to just stay in my purse for doctor waiting rooms and long car rides. Love the concept and really hope that this can become a tool we use to make walks at the national park and downtown more of an adventure.

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